National Food Safety Education Month: What’s Cooking in YOUR Kitchen?

The food supply in the United States is among the safest in the world. However, certain disease-causing bacteria or pathogens can contaminate food, causing foodborne illnesses, or "food poisoning". The federal government estimates there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually–that's 1 in 6 Americans. Each year, these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Luckily, following four simple steps to food safety (clean, separate, cook, chill) from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) can help lower your chances of getting sick! 

CLEAN hands and surfaces often

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, launder them often in the hot cycle.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.
  • Wash lids of canned goods before opening.

SEPARATE raw meats from other foods

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator.
  • Use a separate cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Don't reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first.

COOK to the right temperature

  • Meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products must be cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures to destroy harmful bacteria. Food temperatures should be measured and verified using a food thermometer.
  • When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.

CHILL foods promptly

  • Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90° F.
  • Never thaw food at room temperature. Instead, defrost in the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.

The FDA also has handy tips on Everyday Food Safety for Young Adults, including Making Food Safe Choices While Eating Out, Food Safe Shopping, Storage and Meal Prep, and Food Safety in Your Kitchen.

For those who want to take their food safety education to the next level, CareerSafe offers OSHA 10-Hour General Industry (Culinary). This course covers culinary industry-specific hazards, as well as general industry OSHA safety training. Upon successful completion of the course, students will receive an official OSHA 10-Hour card—an industry-recognized credential with lifelong value!

From cleaning fresh produce to stowing leftovers, make sure food safety is part of what you're cooking!

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